Ron Chebra, VP of Grid Modernization, EnerNexRon Chebra, VP of Grid Modernization
Gone are the days when utility companies were the sole entities generating and distributing power. Today, a multitude of power producers and aggregators such as customers who are generating power behind the meter using rooftop solar panels, represent a new dynamic for utilities. These developments further mark the convergence of information technology and operations technology, and challenges utilities are facing from technical, economical, and regulatory perspectives. While the obligation to serve consumers remains, utilities need to assess the impact these intermittent renewable power sources have on grid operations, including the need to potentially control customer-owned assets. Deploying additional grid resources that may be required to ensure reliable and sustained grid operations could involve incremental costs. This may require regulatory actions equating bulk energy resources with distributed resources which may also have specific locational benefits, such as mitigating a constrained adequacy. From a technical perspective certain feeders may have a greater need for re-enforcement, but a limited capacity to host these resources. Similarly the locational marginal value of these resources can result in a complex economic model or tariff.

Empowering utilities with knowledge, experience and tools to address these predicaments is a multi-pronged approach unique of EnerNex—an ace provider of engineering, consulting, and research services to utilities. With grid modernization being its key forte, EnerNex has been engaged in architecting several smart grid frameworks for many clients including the U.S. Department of Energy. The company visualizes the grid ecosystem holistically, which Ron Chebra, VP of grid modernization at EnerNex, describes as the “grid of things”. “We are strategists and practitioners applying grid modernization concepts, built on an evolution of standards, and practical experience,” says Chebra.

With a highly skilled, knowledgeable, and dedicated workforce, EnerNex has carved a niche for itself by developing best-in-class strategies and roadmaps for grid modernization, demand response, and microgrid development. The company’s power systems consulting group comprises simulation experts and pioneers in assessing the impact of renewable energy on grids, examining in detail areas such as stability, resilience, and other parameters to model systems that optimize grid performance.
“Our team performs detailed modeling and assessments to help make informed decisions regarding the strategies to be employed,” informs Chebra. EnerNex has helped several utility companies ensure an optimum level of performance and service to consumers, by helping mitigate the impact of placing intermittent renewable energy sources on grids.

EnerNex’s modus operandi of catering to clients involves understanding a client’s ecosystem and its challenges. The discovery process is followed by synthesis where discrete areas are examined to mitigate the most crucial pain points, and taking into account relevant compliances. Various use-cases are formulated using what-if scenarios and address aspects of technical, economical, and performance perspectives. Chebra mentions that EnerNex’s engagement with clients could go from postulating a roadmap for grid modernization to how and where solutions should be implemented. “We help clients define the technical and non-technical requirements to achieve their objectives before they go into the tendering process,” says Chebra. He further adds that EnerNex also identifies solution sets including advanced grid distribution management systems that can help power utility companies achieve their objectives. Evaluating various decision and performance metrics as well as implementation methodologies of vendors, are other areas in which EnerNex offers assistance to clients.

EnerNex is currently in growth mode. The company continues to focus on their mission of being at the forefront of technology evolutions, cyber security requirements and regulatory requirements that are driving changes in the industry and to anticipating and meeting clients’ growing needs. “As utility control and monitoring systems undergo transformations, it is not just the distribution of power that matters, but also the visibility into the process which catapults utility companies into becoming more efficient knowledgeable, and delivering more value,” concludes Chebra.